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Old 02-02-2020, 01:59 AM
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how wide would an LP be of every word ever spoken?


Clearly this can't be calculated precisely, but I thought it would be an interesting thought/math experiment:

If we were able to put every word ever spoken by a human on one LP record, how wide would that LP be? And if we placed the earth at the center of the record, how far out would it go - what body in space would the edge be near?

I choose vinyl, since unlike a CD/DVD, I assume you can't play nearly as much with compression, so the size should be easier to calculate if you know the total size.

To figure this out, we need to estimate how much the average person speaks in a day/year, how long the average person lives, and how many "average" people have lived in history.

Any ideas?
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Old 02-02-2020, 02:30 AM
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some starters:

[google - 'how many humans in all history'] BBC estimates 107 billion people have ever lived , of whom about 7 billion alive now.

Average age - lets pick early middle age, because we can assume many of those people died younger and dragged the average down. - my guess 40 years old, of which 38 year are chatting at full steam

[google - 'how much of your time do we spend talking']- estimated 45% talking of 70-80% of waking time spent communicating, and assuming 16 hours awake. So [16 x 60 mins] x .75 x .45 = 324 mins talking per person per day. or 118,341 mins per person/year.

So our total would be - 107 billion people x 38 years x 118,341 = 4.8117E+17 minutes of blather.

Sometimes it feels like much more.

===========

Probably the mo sensitive variable is average age. If it was 30 instead of 40, which could easily be plausible, that would knock it down about a quarter.

Last edited by Banksiaman; 02-02-2020 at 02:34 AM. Reason: because
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Old 02-02-2020, 03:17 AM
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Ok, so if a 12 inch LP holds 22 minutes, what would the diameter of that LP be in kilometers? (It's been a while since I had the math skills to calculate that...)
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Old 02-02-2020, 03:23 AM
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I'm looking at the same website you used, I think, and I think you got the percentage of time spent talking wrong. It says that we use 70-80% of our waking time communicating. Of that time spent communicating, it says we spend 30% of it speaking. So it's .75 times .30, not .75 times .45 in your calculations. Even that strikes me as a vast overestimate. I don't spend .75 times .30 time 16 hours (= 3.6 hours) each day talking, and I don't think I'm a particularly quiet person:

https://veritusgroup.com/stop-talking-start-listening/
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Old 02-02-2020, 03:38 AM
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I'm looking at the same website you used, I think, and I think you got the percentage of time spent talking wrong. It says that we use 70-80% of our waking time communicating. Of that time spent communicating, it says we spend 30% of it speaking. So it's .75 times .30, not .75 times .45 in your calculations. Even that strikes me as a vast overestimate. I don't spend .75 times .30 time 16 hours (= 3.6 hours) each day talking, and I don't think I'm a particularly quiet person:

https://veritusgroup.com/stop-talking-start-listening/
Thanks Wendell.

Yes, I grabbed the wrong figure, so its 2/3 of whatever that number I provided was. That figure also factors in a proportion of old-man-self-muttering as well.

I'm not sure I'd buy the entire LP but if there was a 12" dance mix of me vaguely vocalising Ikea cabinet assembly instructions, I'd buy that!
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Old 02-02-2020, 07:43 AM
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Ok, so if a 12 inch LP holds 22 minutes, what would the diameter of that LP be in kilometers? (It's been a while since I had the math skills to calculate that...)
If it's just speech, you could almost triple the playtime since it requires only a single channel and the tracks could be much closer. On Techmoan, a 2 hour LP is reviewed: https://youtu.be/5fG1crhGqI0?t=369

Last edited by lingyi; 02-02-2020 at 07:47 AM.
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Old 02-02-2020, 07:51 AM
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Ok, so it seems we've done a good job of estimating the total amount of speech, and how much speech can fit on one normal LP. Any ideas how big the one that contained all of it would be?
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Old 02-02-2020, 08:16 AM
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That part's easy enough. An ordinary LP holds 6e1 minutes. We've set the amount of speech as 3e17 minutes. So we need an LP with an area 5e15 times greater. That means the diameter must be greater by a factor of the square root of that, or about 7e7. An ordinary LP has a 1-foot diameter, so we'd be looking at a 70 million foot diameter. A mile is about 5000 feet, so that's be about 13 thousand miles, not much bigger than the Earth's diameter of 8,000 miles.

Though I think the speech figure is still too high. I interpret that stat as meaning that 30% of our communication time is talking (with the rest being gestures, writing, Instagram, etc.). And a lot of time we're engaged in talk-communication, we're listening to someone else, not talking ourselves.
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Old 02-02-2020, 08:21 AM
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Fascinating, thanks!
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Old 02-02-2020, 08:56 AM
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The logistics of constructing a giant turntable to play that record are daunting.

Better to just buy every record ever recorded.
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Old 02-02-2020, 09:14 AM
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At that size wouldn’t 33 1/3 RPM be approaching the speed of light?
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Old 02-02-2020, 09:36 AM
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It would have to be a constant linear veleocity not a constant angular velocity turntable. It it were constant angular the size relationship would be linear not square. Then it absolutely would be speed of light at the edge. The frequency response would be amazing.
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Old 02-02-2020, 09:47 AM
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The answer is about 18 feet diameter but there is a problem.

It would not be very big, let's say the speaker speaks english only in their life. There are only about 170,000 words. If this person managed to speak all of them, let's say at a average of 100 words/m that would equate to 1700 minutes, or 28 hours. Lets, and make the math easy, say that the person does not speak every single word, but let's say 24/28 hours or 1 day's worth of recording. At about 20 minutes per side we would need 72 records single sides or 36 using both sides. Now I'm guessing that the size of the 'data' area of a record is maybe 3 inches thick, and since RPM's are constant, if we combine it into one record it would be 216 in of data area, or 18 feet in diameter, or 9 feet if double sided.

Checking to make sure the speed is OK at the outer surface:

Ignoring the center part taking up space, the RMP's are 33.3 rpm's the diameter is 18 ft, so the outside edge velocity would be 33.3x3.14x18= 1,882 ft/second which seems problematic for conventional vinyl, I would say it would tend to fly apart and another material would be needed. Even at half that for double sided it seems to be too fast. However it would qualify as a record before you attempt to play it, so 9 ft or 18 ft would be answers to satisfy the OP's question.
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:46 AM
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We appear to have answered the question, so I'm going to throw this in. My immediate thought on reading the OP was "To Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite."
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:22 AM
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kanicbird, I think you have misunderstood. The question was about every word ever spoken, not every unique word ever spoken. But even if the latter was the question, you have only counted English words. You would need to count the words in the other 6000 existing languages, plus the hundreds of thousands of extinct languages that have ever existed.
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Old 02-02-2020, 01:47 PM
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kanicbird, I think you have misunderstood. The question was about every word ever spoken, not every unique word ever spoken. But even if the latter was the question, you have only counted English words. You would need to count the words in the other 6000 existing languages, plus the hundreds of thousands of extinct languages that have ever existed.
No it clearly says 'spoken by a human'. 'a' being a singular human. Now I did make some simplifications that this person has only spoke English but considering I gave them speaking perhaps 80% of all english words I think it's pretty reasonable overall as a down and dirty ballpark.

Re Multiple spoken times of the same word. That word was recorded so again fills te OP's requirements.

Like it or not this is a valid answer to the OP's Q. It may not be the only answer, but fundamentally it is correct.

Yes I did look for the easy way to do this and it did prove a interesting mathematical exercise, so that part also checks.

Last edited by kanicbird; 02-02-2020 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 02-02-2020, 02:18 PM
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I do need to correct my math above, not that this changes my answer to the OP (just a notation of a potential issue), but the speed of 1,882 ft/second should have been 1,882 ft/min or 31 ft/sec or about 21 mph, which may not be a problem with vinyl. A needle would also have to be capable of this speed to read it. However all this part is beyond the requirements of the OP's problem.

Last edited by kanicbird; 02-02-2020 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 02-02-2020, 03:15 PM
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When Og the Caveman said "Ooga", that was a word spoken by a human. When John the President said "Apollo", that was also a word spoken by a human. So both would need to be included on the disc.
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Old 02-02-2020, 05:06 PM
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I think you are all forgetting something. As the size of the 'LP' gets larger, so does the circumference. Think the size of a 45 that has two songs, and a full LP that has 10. You could probably put an entire LP on one grove of a disk 100 yards wide.

No, I'm not gonna do the math.
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Old 02-02-2020, 05:15 PM
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I think you are all forgetting something. As the size of the 'LP' gets larger, so does the circumference. Think the size of a 45 that has two songs, and a full LP that has 10. You could probably put an entire LP on one grove of a disk 100 yards wide.

No, I'm not gonna do the math.
No because the speed of rotation is the same.
Each revolution will be done in the exact same time (with perhaps relativistic effects if the edge gets near the speed of light)

Last edited by kanicbird; 02-02-2020 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 02-02-2020, 06:05 PM
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If this is going to be a constant-angular-velocity (CAV) record with the same track density as an LP, I disagree that the record's area is the relevant measure. It should be about radius.

An LP has a radius of about 15 cm but the label doesn't need to scale, so it's only the sound part (about 10 cm or 1e-1 m) that represents 60 minutes (6e1 minutes). Multiply that by 5e15 as in Chronos' post, and you get 5e14 meters in radius, or 1e15 meters in diameter. (Plus about 10 cm for the label.) This is about 6.25e11 statute miles. The outside rim would be about 3.14e15 meters in length; if the whole thing needs to spin at 33.33 revolutions per minute, we've got a relativity problem. Even getting the needle to stay in the groove at those speeds is going to be a challenge.

We really should be looking into making a constant-linear-velocity (CLV) disk instead. Then the area-based calculations would be appropriate. It complicates seeking a bit, though.
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:07 PM
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A 12-inch 33-RPM disc is sub-optimal. Start with a 16-inch 16 2/3 RPM turntable and extrapolate from there. Those used to distribute 1/2 hour radio shows per side. And since we're only dealing with speech, go to 3 RPM and piezo cartridges. Who needs fidelity?
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Old 02-04-2020, 08:05 AM
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That part's easy enough. An ordinary LP holds 6e1 minutes. We've set the amount of speech as 3e17 minutes. So we need an LP with an area 5e15 times greater. That means the diameter must be greater by a factor of the square root of that, or about 7e7. An ordinary LP has a 1-foot diameter, so we'd be looking at a 70 million foot diameter. A mile is about 5000 feet, so that's be about 13 thousand miles, not much bigger than the Earth's diameter of 8,000 miles.

Though I think the speech figure is still too high. I interpret that stat as meaning that 30% of our communication time is talking (with the rest being gestures, writing, Instagram, etc.). And a lot of time we're engaged in talk-communication, we're listening to someone else, not talking ourselves.
So not enough to "cover the Earth". But maybe enough to cover Texas? Probably enough to cover Rhode Island.
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Old 02-04-2020, 08:53 AM
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A 12-inch 33-RPM disc is sub-optimal. Start with a 16-inch 16 2/3 RPM turntable and extrapolate from there. Those used to distribute 1/2 hour radio shows per side. And since we're only dealing with speech, go to 3 RPM and piezo cartridges. Who needs fidelity?
That was my first thought - it doesn't have to 33 rpm, it could be 16 or something even slower. I remember having a record player when I was a kid that had a 16 rpm setting, and my parents explained that they used to use that for spoken word records. (Us kids just used it to make our 33s and 45s sound funny.)
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:39 AM
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And here, the OP thought he was avoiding questions of data compression by using a phonograph record.
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:10 AM
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How many grooves would this behemoth have? And have we accounted for the record having a flip side?
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:34 AM
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How many grooves would this behemoth have? And have we accounted for the record having a flip side?
The "B" side would be entitled, "All the things people have wished they had said but thought of it too late."
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Old 02-04-2020, 01:48 PM
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How many grooves would this behemoth have? And have we accounted for the record having a flip side?
I'm not going to follow the math here, just assuming everyone is correct in their calculations, but the first question is easy, right? 1 groove per side.

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Old 02-04-2020, 03:11 PM
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I'm not going to follow the math here, just assuming everyone is correct in their calculations, but the first question is easy, right? 1 groove per side.
You'd think so, but occasionally novelty records had a 'hidden' groove that had extra material, including one of the Monty Python records I think. There were also horse-race game records, which had ?half a dozen grooves, so a group of people could bet on the outcome and then drop the needle, which would catch a random groove and play out a particular race.

Not sure how that could be applied to the scenario, but you could maybe bet on alternate historical linguistic scenarios like - the last 2500 years of language if the Romans had lost the Punic Wars; if William hadn't conquered; if the first Indo-Europeans had turned left at Albuquerque.
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Old 02-06-2020, 11:15 AM
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I particularly like the issues of the tracks at the speed of light (with apologies to Smokey Robinson). First off, on the purpose of the disk, to be heard I hope even by humans--playback amplifiers will need to calculate the relativistic correction for any number of things, not the least of which is how the damn thing can function in an acoustic environment of any sort.

We're not talking about playback by transmitting EM or other waves through a vacuum. Let's get real here.

Similarly, I can see that our imprint-vinyl recording being sub optimal, although taking the Earth-atmosphere acoustic frequencies and using super-duper transportation of some sort to lay down the grooves on the platter is conceivable.

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Old 02-06-2020, 11:23 AM
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You'd think so, but occasionally novelty records had a 'hidden' groove that had extra material, including one of the Monty Python records I think. There were also horse-race game records, which had ?half a dozen grooves, so a group of people could bet on the outcome and then drop the needle, which would catch a random groove and play out a particular race.

Not sure how that could be applied to the scenario, but you could maybe bet on alternate historical linguistic scenarios like - the last 2500 years of language if the Romans had lost the Punic Wars; if William hadn't conquered; if the first Indo-Europeans had turned left at Albuquerque.
You... people! With your fancy... knowledge and... facts and stuff!

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Old 02-06-2020, 11:41 AM
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You'd think so, but occasionally novelty records had a 'hidden' groove that had extra material, including one of the Monty Python records I think. There were also horse-race game records, which had ?half a dozen grooves, so a group of people could bet on the outcome and then drop the needle, which would catch a random groove and play out a particular race.
MAD Magazine included a flimsy plastic record like this in one of their monthly offerings. It was a song called "Super Spectacular Day" that started out all nice and optimistic, but then quickly turned dark. I want to say there were at least 5 tracks on that record.

ETA: Found it. (Gawd bless the internet). 8 versions.

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Old 02-06-2020, 12:19 PM
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Ok, that's nice and all, but how many TB SD card?
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Old 02-07-2020, 05:37 AM
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You'd think so, but occasionally novelty records had a 'hidden' groove that had extra material, including one of the Monty Python records I think. There were also horse-race game records, which had ?half a dozen grooves, so a group of people could bet on the outcome and then drop the needle, which would catch a random groove and play out a particular race.
Ah, thank you! I had seen TV ads for such a horse-race game back in the 1980s, and always wondered how they could claim it was random if the user could put the needle down in the same spot every time.
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Old 02-08-2020, 06:02 AM
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An aside, but, last night Mrs. Napier was going on about how wonderful audiobooks are, as if every book should be an audiobook. And so of course I started thinking about audiobook dictionaries....
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Old 02-08-2020, 06:17 PM
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An aside, but, last night Mrs. Napier was going on about how wonderful audiobooks are, as if every book should be an audiobook. And so of course I started thinking about audiobook dictionaries....
And audio phone directories, tech manuals, codebooks, atlases, cookbooks, the Voynich Manuscript, puzzle books, field guides, encyclopediae, etc. Blank pages are quiet.
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Old 02-09-2020, 09:00 AM
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Blank pages are quiet.
Thought they said "This page deliberately left quiet."
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Old 02-09-2020, 02:01 PM
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Old 02-09-2020, 02:50 PM
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Back to OP.
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Originally Posted by curwin View Post
If we were able to put every word ever spoken by a human on one LP record, how wide would that LP be? And if we placed the earth at the center of the record, how far out would it go - what body in space would the edge be near?
He doesn't ask for ALL speech of EVERY human but merely for words in human speech. Let's limit this to Homo Sapiens Sapiens - Denisovans and Neandertals need not apply.

The English language contains possibly upwards of 1/2 million words. (cite) but it's pretty rich. Let's say that 100,000 human languages (noted upthread) contain an average of 50,000 words each for a total of 5 billion words. (We'll gloss-over polysynthetic languages that assemble simple syllables into complex "words".) Let's say that a word can on average be spoken in one second. Duration is thus a bit under 1.4 million hours, requiring the surface area of that many single-sided 12-inch 1-hour ELP discs, or about 444,000 square feet, rounded. That gives a diameter of about 750 feet, if my groggy, un-caffeinated brain didn't muck the numbers. I welcome correction but I think that's in the ballpark. Or Ikea parking lot.
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:12 PM
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Back to OP.

He doesn't ask for ALL speech of EVERY human but merely for words in human speech. Let's limit this to Homo Sapiens Sapiens - Denisovans and Neandertals need not apply. ...
The OP asked for 'every word ever spoken by a human', and you could interpret that both ways [Every Word Once, or All Words by All Humans]. However, some of us spelled out the quantity implied by the All words-All humans version, which he seemed to be very comfortable with.

Curwin might help here by chiming in and clarifying this before we get too much more wacky mathematical minimalism.
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Old 02-09-2020, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Banksiaman View Post
The OP asked for 'every word ever spoken by a human', and you could interpret that both ways [Every Word Once, or All Words by All Humans]. However, some of us spelled out the quantity implied by the All words-All humans version, which he seemed to be very comfortable with.

Curwin might help here by chiming in and clarifying this before we get too much more wacky mathematical minimalism.
I meant all words spoken by all humans over all time. Sorry it wasn't more clear.

I thought it was understandable from my last sentence:

"To figure this out, we need to estimate how much the average person speaks in a day/year, how long the average person lives, and how many "average" people have lived in history."
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